On paper, the week of August 15, which included two back-to-back long weekends, was the best time to release a movie. This is why the two films that did release last week met with spectacular failure, raising concerns about the state of the Hindi commercial film industry. Box Office India reports that Akshay Kumar and Bhumi Pednekar’s Raksha Bandhan (2022) made less than Rs 38 crore in its first week. Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan’s Laal Singh Chaddha (2022) brought approximately Rs 50 crore in the same period. That amount was earned by Khan’s most recent film, Thugs of Hindostan (2018).

Although Raksha Bandhan was anticipated, its box office failure hasn’t been a surprise. This is partly because Raksha Bandhan mainly received unfavorable reviews, and Kumar’s most recent two movies were also duds. Conversely, Laal Singh Chaddha’s figures have shaken the Hindi cinema business. There are questions over whether Laal Singh Chaddha would be the first Indian movie to witness online animosity affect its offline box office receipts, given that two of Bollywood’s brightest performers failed to pull spectators despite popular hashtags raging against them. The recommendation to avoid high-profile movies, especially those with actors branded “anti-national,” has been a common thread on Indian social media.

Although Raksha Bandhan was anticipated, its box office failure hasn’t a surprise. This is partly because Raksha Bandhan mainly received unfavorable reviews, and Kumar’s most recent two movies were also duds. Conversely, Laal Singh Chaddha’s figures have shaken the Hindi cinema business. There are questions over whether Laal Singh Chaddha would be the first Indian movie to witness online animosity affect its offline box office receipts, given that two of Bollywood’s brightest performers failed to pull spectators despite popular hashtags raging against them. The recommendation to avoid high-profile movies, especially those with actors branded “anti-national,” has been a common thread on Indian social media.

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There are no simple explanations for why Laal Singh Chaddha performed so poorly, and industry observers disagree on the effectiveness of social media in persuading viewers to avoid a movie. According to Shailesh Kapoor, CEO of Ormax Media, “I don’t think one can credit more than a 5% influence to these boycott movements, and that too in the rarest of rare circumstances.” On the other hand, a successful digital campaign might have a significant influence, according to Gautam Thakker, CEO of Everymedia, a digital media firm that provides marketing and PR solutions. A perfectly planned campaign may increase a movie’s take by 20–30%, while bad marketing can cause a significant deficit of 20–30%,” Thakkar stated.

Laal Singh Chaddha’s failure follows the enormous critical and financial triumphs of SS Rajamouli’s RRR (2022) and Prashant Neel’s KGF 2 (2022). South Indian movie stars are becoming more well-known in areas formerly considered Bollywood’s strongholds. Hindi commercial cinema appears to be in trouble, which has long held a lofty position as India’s most glitzy and prominent film industry. For Bollywood, these are unusual and perplexing times, with more questions than there are solutions.

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